I’ve been following Matthew Rhys on social media long before he finally broke down and verified his twitter account. Thus, the fact that he’s been refurbishing a Hemingway era boat for over 3 years was not news. What was a surprise however, was learning that the boat is now available for charter for $685 an hour at movablefeastny.com.
I thought he was rehabbing the craft for his own personal enjoyment, building a place where he and his beard could feel at peace in the world. It turns out, anyone can rent the boat, for tours, weddings, meals. What’s more, Rhys isn’t just lending his fame to the rental service. He’s hands on. He even works the lost and found department. I saw him on twitter assuring a passenger that he’d found his lost watch and would be returning it promptly, providing the owner could properly identify the timepiece. To that point, Rhys, how many would-be thieves would count on someone having left a pricey watch behind after a voyage on a Hemingwayesque boat? I think they’d just use the reliable “Has anyone found a credit card? I think I left mine, here,” trick.
Why is Rhys renting out his boat? Back when FX renewed The Americans for two whole seasons, I rejoiced. Nevermind that the Jays (showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields) weren’t prepared for two more seasons. They thought they were only getting greenlighted for one more year. When they got two instead, they had no scripts for it. Elizabeth and Philip Jennings spent all of Season 5 digging a radioactive hole and brutally killing anyone who tried to stop them. They were definitely padding the story to make it last for 23 more episodes, but I didn’t mind. I thought, “Matthew and Keri must really be making the big bucks for the last two seasons.” No one knew the show would be a hit when they first signed on, but once they were ready to negotiate their final contracts, it was a critical success, so they should have been able to make top dollar, by the time it all wrapped up. Good for them, I cheered. They deserve it. But if their financial security was set in 2018, why is Rhys now a pirate?
Rhys parlayed his Emmy win on The Americans into the titular role in HBO’s Perry Mason. Surely, this casting would launch Rhys into the upper echelon. Prestige cable. Game of Thrones moolah. Apparently not. Kit Harrington is living the life of Riley, but I suppose that broke the HBO bank and leaves Matthew Rhys swabbing the decks.
Of course, there are worse things Rhys could do. It’s not like the 5 years he spent on Brothers and Sisters was easy. Sharing a make up trailer with Rob Lowe was no enviable task and then when the show ended, Rhys was just as unknown as he’d been before it started. I can’t remember ever having seen him before when I tuned in to The Americans pilot. I was casually watching, smiling as the song Tusk played through a scene. It was not until it dawned on Philip Jennings that the hostage being held in his garage may have raped Philip’s wife that my life changed. He grabbed the man, screaming, “How did he hurt you? How did you hurt her?” Then, he choked him to death, but Philip’s violence was entwined with such intense pain and love for Elizabeth. She’d never known it was there, before. The hidden recesses moved Elizabeth — and me. I’d marveled over Keri Russell ever since the movie Waitress, but who was this new guy? I fell hard.
Then, I heard Rhys in interviews. He’s Welsh? I faltered. That accent, the quick wit . . . my doctor still doesn’t know if I’ll make a full recovery. He’s just the type of man whose boat you’d want to charter.
As to that vintage vessel, Rhys named it the Rarebit. Hemingway’s was Pilar. Do you remember the name from For Whom the Bell Tolls? Pilar, the boat, not the gypsy, was a 42-foot sportfisherman, built by Wheeler Yachts in 1934. When he wasn’t fishing in it with his brother, Hemingway used to write in the boat’s cockpit and, when he took a fancy, grab control in the flying bridge and take her offshore. With Pilar, he could go searching for his muse in Peru, Cabo Bianco, anywhere on the Pacific.
During World War II, Hemingway played spy, he and Pilar left Cuba with a band of stealth submarine patrols. Upon his suicide in 1961, Hemingway bequeathed the boat to its skipper, Gregorio Fuentes Betancourt. Betancourt eventually passed it on to the Cuban government. Betancourt says he was fishing with Hemingway in The Pilar when seeds of The Old Man and the Sea were born.
The Wheeler Company also made Pilar’s sister ships and Rhys’ Rarebit is only one of four like it in the world, known to still exist. Another sister, the Blue Heron, also operates as a charter boat in Key West. Rhys’ and his Rarebit are in quite rare company. One can understand what a heady feeling it would be to climb aboard the Pilar replica, close your eyes and imagine you’re navigating dark passages of the Florida Keys, running contraband with Harry Morgan. You see why Rhys was moved to take on this labor of love and now you can share it, at least for an hour or two.
Rhys says that the boat was called Rarebit, an old Welsh dish, even before he bought it. He took that as a sign, when he saw it for sale, he felt instant kismet.
Should you charter the yacht, why not have rarebit on the Rarebit? Cream of asparagus soup pairs splendidly. For the rarebit filling, mix grated cheese with mayonnaise and pimento, or finely chopped pimento stuffed olives, and spread between slices of toasted whole wheat bread. Voila. But psssst Keri, the next time they offer you that Felicity reboot, please take it. Your family obviously needs the cash.